NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — It’s a celebratory time for parents when they children graduate from college, and that was the case Thursday even for a big celebrity like LL Cool J.

It was a big day for seniors at Fashion Institute of Technology in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, as nearly 4,000 students graduated.

For some parents, it was bittersweet. But not for tough guy LL Cool J, CBS2’s Cindy Hsu reports. He plays an ex-Navy Seal on “NCIS: Los Angeles,” has won two Grammy awards and even has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

But on Thursday, it was all about seeing his daughter, Samaria, graduate.

“I love you, I’m proud of you and congratulations,” he told her.

Samaria plans to be a fashion designer and says her father’s fame doesn’t get in the way of their special relationship.

“To me, he’s just dad,” she said.

“Isn’t that sweet. Isn’t that heartwarming,” LL Cool J replied.

The star wasn’t just a proud father. He was also the recipient of the President’s Award for Creative Excellence from FIT, and he started his acceptance speech with his trademark humor.

“Are you as hungry as I am? Because right now, I’m absolutely starving,” he said.

He then got serious.

“This generation is poised to bridge the gap of racism, sexism and any other negative-ism that has been impacting our world,” he said.

He ended with advice from his mother and grandmother.

“If a task is once begun, never leave until it’s done. Be thy labor great or small, do it well or not at all,” he said.

LL Cool J grew up in Hollis, Queens and said it was an honor to receive an award in his home borough.